CENIC 2011: Expanding Our Horizons

[CENIC 2011: Innovations in Networking Award Winners]

Every year, CENIC selects applications in four areas -- Educational, Gigabit/Broadband, High-Performance Research, and Experimental/Developmental Applications -- that showcase the ways in which advanced networks are and will be changing the world we live in and our way of interacting with it in the arenas of research and education.

Below is the list of winners of the 2011 Innovations in Networking Awards. The awards ceremony will take place at the 2011 CENIC Annual Conference, Expanding Our Horizons, on Tuesday March 8. Presentations given by the winners on their projects will follow.

Educational Applications: Virtual Computing Lab Initiative
Begun as a pilot program at the Cal State Northridge and East Bay campuses, the Virtual Computing Lab (VCL) Initiative allows students to access the software applications their coursework demands from campus, home, or anywhere they have a browser and Internet connectivity. Furthermore, students have this access seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Complex, expensive software can run on the VCL and be accessed via an older PC or a Macintosh since the hardware in the VCL handles the processing.

Faculty use this same infrastructure for high-performance computing for activities and research. This project involved creating a shared VCL cloud (interconnected by CalREN) for students and faculties at multiple CSU institutions.

Thus for all the reasons listed above, the VCL enables significant cost savings and performance increases for the CSU. Expensive software need only be bought once and the Lab scaled to make it available to users in many locations without duplicating effort. Also, older and legacy equipment can be used to access the Lab. In times when new budget cuts confront California's public education every year, an application that can literally take these crises and turn them into opportunities not only to continue operations in the face of financial tight times but to actually improve and extend an institution's mission certainly deserves applause.

Gigabit/Broadband Applications: The Digital 395 Project
CENIC has taken the opportunity with its Gigabit/Broadband award to recognize projects that promise to aid in closing the "digital divide" separating the most connected Californians from their fellow citizens living in un- or underserved areas which are not easily served by the market forces that have provided other areas of the state with top-quality connectivity.

This year's winner, the California Broadband Cooperative's Digital 395 Middle Mile Project, certainly aims to do a great deal to close that gap in the areas of the state east of the Sierras between Nevada and Barstow along Interstate 395. Much of this region is dependent on decades-old telephone infrastructure and has limited, insufficient broadband middle-mile capabilities, leaving wide swaths of the Central Valley and eastern California unserved. Also, the relative lack of connectivity in the area leaves some sections vulnerable to isolation in case of fiber cuts or other events due to a lack of diverse fiber paths.

The Project proposes to build a new 553-mile, 10 Gb/s middle-mile fiber network that would mainly follow US Route 395 between southern and northern California. In addition to 36 municipalities, the project's proposed service area encompasses six Indian reservations and two military bases. More than 230 community anchor institutions will be provided access to 10 Mb/s broadband connectivity, with 2.5 Gb/s and higher-capacity fiber-based services offered to the region's last mile providers to expand or enhance service to households and businesses.

High-Performance Research Applications: Tele-Immersion for Physicians
Another strong "killer app" for advanced networks is the empowerment of medical professionals to extend their reach to one another and to their patients. UC Berkeley and UC Davis's Tele-Immersion for Physicians promises to use advanced networks to unite medical professionals not only with one another but with their data, so that the interaction between the people can become an interaction via the data in question (imaging data, for example). This brings about faster and more productive collaborations, where doctors can both see the same data at the same time instead of having to rely on individual mental models that may not reconcile with one another. This more fluid means of connecting with colleagues and information will bring about faster and more productive collaborations, where doctors need not rely on individual mental models that may not reconcile with one another.

This project seeks to unite the Tele-Immersion Lab at UC Berkeley with the Institute for Data Analysis and Visualization (IDAV) at UC Davis and is comprised of three components currently under development, tele-immersion infrastructure, real-time video capturing systems, and the algorithms needed to capture, visualize, and transmit such data. Successful experiments have been performed, and a proposal has been submitted for a Tele-Immersion node at the UC Davis Medical Center Department of Sports Medicine. Funding has been received from Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) and the National Science Foundation.

Experimental/Developmental Applications: CineGrid@Disney Demonstration
The international collaborative digital and rich media organization CineGrid has been recognized by CENIC in the past for empowering the production, use, preservation, and exchange of very-high-quality digital media over photonic networks. This year, the organization has been recognized for multiple demonstrations taking place at the Frank G. Wells Theatre at Disney in Burbank, CA.

The CineGrid@Disney Demonstration on October 13, 2010 was the result of a nine-month effort involving more than 50 participants from seven CineGrid member organizations: Disney Studios, NTT Network Innovation Laboratory, Skywalker Sound, Digital Domain, UCSD/Calit2, UIC/EVL, and Pacific Interface. The challenge was to bring together several different creative workflows, linking multiple remote locations, into a single room using very high-quality media running over high-speed networks for interactive, real-time remote collaboration.

Specific use cases demonstrated included: a 4K/60p telepresence virtual conference room; critical viewing of digitally restored archival film elements at 4K and 2K resolutions, streaming from a remote server; Digital Intermediate (DI) color grading; critical viewing of 3D HD stereoscopic visual effects; collaborative audio editing and mixing; and use of a SAGE multi-panel display walls for collaborative review of multimedia marketing materials.

The Demonstration relied on the active cooperation of five of CineGrid's network members -- CalREN, JGN2, GEMnet, PNWGPOP, and StarLight -- who provided 1GigE and 10GigE connectivity to the geographically separated participants; in addition, the City of Burbank provided critical last-mile connectivity at 10Gb/s from Disney to CalREN, the CineGrid hub in the Los Angeles region.

Also being recognized for the Outstanding Individual Contribution award for 2011 is Greg Scott, who has been a foundational member of the CENIC team since 2001, when he was hired to assist with the Optical Network Initiative, a project which longtime members of the community will remember well. Greg joined CENIC from UC Santa Cruz.

During Greg's tenure at CENIC, the vital work that he performed included coordinating the physical connections of the CalREN network, largely in myriad rented co-location facilities spread throughout California, each presenting unique challenges all its own. This work was extraordinarily complex and required an understanding of different types of fiber, optical equipment, power, cooling, space needs, etc. Significantly, this work also involved the ability to interact and negotiate with a variety of companies and organizations on behalf of the community that CENIC serves, from commercial firms to facilities managers at campus, college, and county office locations.

Greg's efforts have been absolutely critical to implementation of CENIC's fiber backbone network, to its ongoing operation, and to many other projects that have improved the connectivity of many educational sites across all segments on CalREN. Nearly ten million Californians owe him a significant debt of gratitude for helping make possible the network that enriches their lives every day.

[Titanium Sponsor: Cisco Systems] [CENIC 2011 Keynote Speakers]

NSF Cyberinfrastructure head Alan Blatecky and Carnegie Mellon's Jon M. Peha to keynote at Expanding Our Horizons -- Learn more!

[Platinum Sponsor: AT&T] [Platinum Sponsor: Level3 Communications] [Platinum Sponsor: Brocade] [2011 Innovations in Networking Award Winners]

Learn more about this year's winners -- three research and education projects, and one broadband project for northern/central California!

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Take a look at our list of Presenter Resources for tips on making your talk a success!

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